Virtual desktop solutions continue to emerge at a steady pace, largely driven by two factors: the virtual technology already in place for server and storage consolidation, and the ongoing migration to Windows Vista, which has been eased a bit by new virtualization-friendly licensing from Microsoft.
With the likes of Citrix and Virtual Iron coming out with new enterprise-level platforms, much of the trade press is declaring this the summer of desktop virtualization, in which the technology finally emerges from the call center into the mission-critical sphere.
Others are citing new partnerships, like the one between ClearCube and VMware, that will bring the ESX Server onto the PC blade system, as the driving wedge of the virtual PC. A chief attribute of the combined system is simplified management gained by hosting multiple machines on as little hardware as possible.
Even the Linux crowd is cutting in on the action. Linspire has partnered up with Virtual Bridges to host the latter's Win4Lin Pro virtualization software on the Linspire and Freespire operating systems. The combination is a boon to Windows users who are just dabbling in Linux because it lets users of virtual machines tap into applications for both operating systems.
While there is no doubt that desktop virtualization is a major advancement for the enterprise -- one that will boost productivity and lower costs -- we still have to be leery about the press overselling it at this point. First of all, as this article in CIO Insight points out, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding if virtual desktops are right for you. Will employees buy into it? If they're not jazzed about giving up their hard drives, productivity may suffer. Are there any one-to-one license issues to work out? Are your server platforms robust enough to handle a virtual PC environment?
The point here is that virtualization, like any emerging technology, has the potential to radically alter the way we do business for the better. But it's best to go in with your eyes open and realize that new technologies are rarely as miraculous as their supporters make them out to be.